It’s quite surreal to be able to pop into town and see someone like Hamilton Leithauser on a Thursday night in Bristol.
This man’s voice has rung in my head since I first heard him sing with The Walkmen over a decade ago. The rasp of John Fogerty mixed with the emotional vigour of Mick Jagger, the towering, not only in soaring vocal range but physical height as well, Mr Leithauser, blew the Lantern away.
When the band take to the stage, with Hamilton backing the queue, there is a lift in the atmosphere, as if the audience had waited a week to see him. Launching into ‘Sick as a Dog’ from last year’s ‘I Had A Dream That You Were Mine’ perhaps my favourite of 2016, Hamilton’s voice is there, lungs pumped and powerful from the get-go. No warming up here.
The set twists and turns, filled heavily with tracks from ‘I Had A Dream…’, with a couple from Hamilton’s seminal first solo album, ‘Black Hours’.
This is a gig of sing alongs, with the audience, including myself somewhat hoarse post-gig as you don’t just sing along, you naturally try to match Hamilton rasp and reach, but realistically not doing your throat any favours. A member of audience pipes up at one point, as he and his cohort had wondered into the main hall and were patiently awaiting Laura Marling to finish so they could watch Mr Leithauser, until they realised he was in the other room. Even Hamilton cracked a smile.
The set is filled with highlights of vocal prowess, but also in the form of instrumentation with Stephen Patterson’s stylish drumming, Greg Roberts’ subtle bass, and Eric Harvey, who is fresh from leaving Spoon, tap dancing between piano, keyboard and lead guitar duties, with all three piping up on backing vocals.
An early highlight comes in the form of ‘The Bride’s Dad’, a ballad of an unwelcome guest at a wedding, unwelcomingly spoiling the party as a loveable rogue. ‘A 1000 Times’, perhaps the ‘hit’ from last year comes surprisingly early, with unsurprising applause. And a one song encore of the beautiful ‘1959’ tops off a set from a band of pros. It was fast and loose, and the crowd wouldn’t have wanted for a thing.
Listen to ‘A 1000 Times’ here: